Piedmont defeated host Cleburne County 52-39 on Friday in the girls’ bracket championship game of the Anniston Star Holiday Hoops Classic. The Bulldogs led throughout the contest but for a few minutes in second half they appeared to be in trouble.

With about three minutes left in the third quarter, coach Terrance Ridley had to sit two starters, first Pinky Nation and then Sydney Prater, because of foul trouble. Kiara Jackson, Cassidy Jackson and Camron Logan came to the rescue. Ridley said Tuesday that her strategy was pass the ball, patiently looking for a wide-open shot while draining the clock until the end of the third period. Piedmont led by seven points when Nation and Prater departed and still had a seven-point advantage at 34-27 when they returned at the start of the fourth quarter.   

“I think they did a great job of doing that, not turning the ball over and giving the other team a chance to score. Those girls really executed what I wanted them to do at the time,” Ridley said.  

Prater finished with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Kayley Kirk had 18 points, including three 3-point baskets in the second half. She accounted for eight of her team’s 10 points in the third quarter. Nation also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kaitlyn Ridley ended with eight points, six assists and seven boards.

To reach the championship game, the Bulldogs defeated Weaver 58-49 in the semifinal round. They rallied from a halftime deficit of 27-12 by outscoring the Bearcats 23-8 in the third quarter and 23-14 in the fourth. Kirk led the way with 24 points, including three treys. Prater tallied 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Piedmont opened against highly regarded Ranburne and won 68-62 after leading 40-31 at halftime. Nation scored 23 points. Prater had 20 points, 10 in the fourth quarter to quell a rally by Ranburne. Kirk netted three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Ridley scored nine points.  

Now 8-4, Piedmont plays at Pleasant Valley in a Class 3A, Area 10 game today starting at 3 p.m. and hosts Saks on Thursday.

Spring Garden boys

The Spring Garden boys are now 10-3 overall and two-for-two in holiday basketball tournament championship games. The Panthers downed Pepperell (Ga.) 59-49 in Friday’s championship game of the Hilburn-Patterson Christmas tournament at Haralson County High School in Tallapoosa, Ga.  

Dylan Rogers led Spring Garden with 27 points. He was 9-for-11 from inside the arc, 1-for-1 from outside and 6-for-7 at the free throw line. Weston Kirk scored 10 points and added four assists. Riley Austin finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

In Thursday’s semifinal game, Spring Garden defeated Temple (Ga.) 50-37. Kirk had 13 points and six rebounds. Austin, Dalton Rogers and Draevan Bowman each scored eight points. Austin added five rebounds, Rogers four and Bowman three.

A 15-for-16 night at the free throw line carried the Panthers past Bremen (Ga.) 64-59 in their Hilburn-Patterson opener on Dec. 27. Austin scored 18 points and was 10 of 11 at the charity stripe. Bowman had 14 points, four assists and three rebounds. Dylan Roger was 3-for-3 at the foul line and ended with 12 points. Kirk contributed eight points and five rebounds to the victory. Isiah Sanchez had six rebounds. He was two-for-two at the line while scoring four points.

The Panthers carried a seven-game winning streak into their home game against Haralson County on Jan. 2. Their next game will be at Donoho on Jan. 9.